Chiefs getting more than they expected from rookie class

Chris Jones has been a reliable contributor to the Chiefs' pass-rush, which has been depleted by injuries. AP Photo/Michael Conroy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Immediate expectations for the rookie class of the Kansas City Chiefs weren’t much. The Chiefs traded out of the first round and took defensive lineman Chris Jones of Mississippi State with their initial choice, in the second round. The Chiefs also forfeited one of their third-round picks when they were found guilty of tampering the previous year with prospective free agent Jeremy Maclin.

But this rookie class has been better than expected, at least in its first year.

Grade: B-plus

Best rookie: Jones and fifth-round wide receiver Tyreek Hill both have made a major impact. Jones stood out from his first practice at training camp for his pass-rush ability. His production, particularly as a rusher, has been consistent throughout the season. Jones has been a vital addition because the Chiefs had to put two of their starting defensive linemen, Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard, on injured reserve.

Most improved rookie: Hill got off to a bit of a slow start but has arguably been their best offensive player since. He is fast, but speed isn’t the only thing that makes him a threat. He has great ball skills down the field. Hill has also been one of the NFL’s top punt return specialists.

Most disappointing rookie: This has to be third-round cornerback KeiVarae Russell because he’s already playing for another team, the Cincinnati Bengals. Russell didn’t play well in camp or the preseason, but the Chiefs inexplicably gave up on him quickly. Because of injuries, the Chiefs haven’t had much depth at cornerback and could have used Russell.

The jury is still out on ... Dadi Nicolas: The sixth-round outside linebacker showed pass-rush skills during camp and the preseason. He hasn’t played much in the real games, but he’s worth keeping around in order to see what develops.

Undrafted rookie check: The Chiefs have one undrafted rookie, linebacker Terrance Smith. He plays mainly on special teams.